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Album Review—RIVALS “Damned Soul”

Damned Soul to be released via Smartpunk Records on February 2, 2018. Pre-order HERE.

Damned Soul is a 10-track banger that was produced by John Espy (Red Jumpsuit Apparatus) and Aaron Edwards (Sick Puppies, Elohim, The Cab), with additional writing for drums and mixing/mastering by Cody Stewart (The Browning, Rings of Saturn, Falsifier). Filled with powerful and emotional tracks, Damned Soul is set to be the debut album that fans have been waiting for.

RIVALS is a Pop-Rock band out of So-Cal, with a dark twist. Following their EP Haunted/Hunted, released back in 2015, RIVALS are finally back with their newest album Damned Soul, set to be released February 2, 2018. RIVALS was formed in 2014 by vocalist Kalie Wolfe, alongside guitarist Micket Woodle and bassist Sebastian Chamberlain.

Damned Soul opens with “Over It”; an Electric track that demonstrates various voice ranges throughout. Not only does this offer diversity among the voice levels, but also starts the album out with a very upbeat song. Wolfe demonstrates her abilities with her vocals through these different ranges.

YouTube | Over It — RIVALS (Official Music Video)

The second track off of Damned Soul is “Low.” Not only is this another, varying upbeat song, but this was their first music video to be released. This song includes varying electronic elements throughout and would be considered ‘Emo Pop’. Wolfe's voice is much like that of Amy Lee from Evanescence. This helped grow their fan base quite significantly from the release of their first EP.

YouTube | Low — RIVALS (Official Music Video)

“Damned Soul” is the third song off of the album. This album was named after this song. Not only does this song harbor deeper vocals, but it also gives off heavy PVRIS vibes, along with “Can You Feel My Heart” (BMTH).

The fourth track off of the album is “Gunslinger.” Despite being a Pop-Rock band, this song gives off heavy Metalcore vibes with its heavy guitar riffs. This is definitely one of the heavier songs off of the album. It is a very distinctive song.

“Moonlit” is the fifth track off of Damned Soul. This was their second music video released. It is a rather soft song following a rather heavy song. This song portrays strong Halsey vibes throughout. It also includes dream-like guitar riffs, making it a very calming song one can listen to on a long drive at night.

YouTube | Moonlit — RIVALS (Official Music Video)

The sixth track off Damned Soul, is “Wild Things.” This track is definitely one of the softer songs off the album, but still holds a sharp edge. Starting with an ethereal vibe, it crescendos to an intense climax–another feature of Wolfe’s vocal prowess. Midway through, following the vocals, there is a moment of instrumental interlude that some may find reminiscent of “Hospital of Souls” (BMTH).

“Misery Memory” is the seventh track off Damned Soul. This is one of the faster tracks off the album.The feel we pick up on in this tune is one of struggle or working through an obstacle in life. We sense this specific track may be about the journey RIVALS has gone through to get to where they are today.

The eighth track is “Reflection” which starts off with heavy rhythm guitars brought back from their first EP Haunted/Hunted, as well as containing strong vocals. This song is also heavily permeated with synth rhythms. With the mix of heavy electric and their signature Dark-Pop sound, “Reflection” will definitely be a fan favorite. We believe this song was the perfect transition from their first EP to Damned Soul.

“Keep Going” is the next track, being the second to last off this album. Kicking off in motion with Metalcore-like guitar and drums. The name of this track, matches immensely with the energy of the frenetic riffs. It has the pure balance between fast, energetic momentum and a dreamy melody.

The last track of Damned Soul is “To: Leila.” Bringing RIVALS’ first album to a close, this song has the most diverse sound. With the mix of Woodle’s and Chamberlain's hard riffs, combined with Wolfe’s elegant vocals, this song has an edgy, dream-like grasp.

RIVALS' composition and production has undergone a metamorphosis since the 2015 release of their debut EP Haunted/Hunted. Their sound has matured, with many more upbeat and electronic undertones that highlight Wolfe's vocal abilities. Driven by Wolfe’s powerhouse vocals and the band’s infectious yet raw sound, RIVALS is fueled by powerful and energetic songwriting, bringing forth a type of fearlessness in their music that stands out among the rest. Damned Soul is the debut album that fans have been waiting for.

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